Friday, September 20, 2013

Democracy on Wheels.

Earlier this month we Australians lived the dream (or Libertarian's nightmare) of compulsory voting and headed to our local polling place for a federal election. As it was a pleasant early spring day, Ginger and I decided to bicycle - thus revealing to our fellow democracy unenthusiasts that we are Commie-Pinko Tree-hugging Bicycle-Riding Left-Wing Voters. Or so you'd be justified in believing.

Pictured: Lefty Posers exercising...their democratic rights, YEAH!

And you'd be mostly correct. But post election, the way bicycles are perceived in Oz may be about to change. Dramatically. And terribly. You see Australia is a nation as full of political apathy as we are beer and BBQs (mean average). We knew we didn't want the Current Guy anymore but beyond that decision it was collectively agreed that we didn't much care for anybody else either. So as a nation we turned, proud and strong and said, "So I guess you win?" to the Other Guy. And the Other Guy is this guy:

This Guy.
"Brilliant!" you might exclaim, "Sure he's a Roadie but he's a cyclist Prime Minister! This is a step towards a bicycle infrastructure renaissance, a cleaner and greener future, a serious look at where Australia's obsession with cars might cause problems down the track!"

But you'd be ignorant and foolish because This Guy is also:

This Guy.

This Guy.
That's right. We didn't give the top job to a garden variety Roadie, we gave it to a TRIATHLETE. The only reason This Guy rides a bicycle is to prove how much faster he is than other guys. He has no interest in sustainable/alternative transport or bicycle infrastructure or even the environment. In fact he's only been in charge a matter of days and he's already dismantled Australia's climate commission. He's also promised to extend highways across the country and help mining companies expand into World Heritage Areas. This Guy doesn't care about cycling unless it can be used to win at things or prove how brave you are by riding with cars.

Although This Guy likes to affirm his masculinity by staging photo opportunities at all kinds of sporting events, unfortunately an iconic bike image encapsulating This Guy's general attitude and deliberately testosterone-centric world view emerged during the election campaign:


Added to all the other times he appeared on a bicycle, he is now inexorably tied to (road)cycling. This means that when This Guy inevitably upsets the country he will be remembered as 'That douche-hole on a bicycle' and contribute to the already swelling hatred of cyclists in Australia. I'm referring to the many Facebook groups about running over cyclists with your car (complete with actual photos from horrific crashes), the articles written by well known sports figures and journalists condemning cyclists for being cyclists and of course the general dominance of the automobile in the national psyche.

Worse still, due to the quirks of the Australian system we have managed to elect (albeit to a less important position than Prime Minister) a rogue private citizen running under the banner of 'The Motoring Enthusiasts Party'. Their entire policy platform is 'We like cars. But like car-liking people are a persecuted group and so you should just let us drive our cars through everywhere and on top of everything at whatever speed we please because CARS WON'T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CARS?!'

So with these post-election problems in mind I'll be very surprised if the next three years deliver any positives to the bicycle users of Australia. But that's compulsory democracy for you.

For the Record: I am actually pro-compulsory voting. Take THAT, Libertarians.

1 comment:

  1. You rode to the polling booth in Northern Tasmania?That's a pretty gutsy effort in my book.

    (well said,by the way)